Delfeayo Marsalis' father, Ellis Marsalis Jr., was a jazz icon in New Orleans, as well as the patriarch of the Marsalis family. After 85 years of bringing jazz to his community, the elder Marsalis died of complications from Covid-19
The day after his death, a local music store put out a sign that read, "Thank you Ellis Marsalis for keeping NOLA music alive!"
"The idea resonated with me and I realized that, yes, that's exactly what my father did in his own way, and that's the perfect name," Marsalis said.
So he founded KNOMA, Keep New Orleans Music Alive
, to financially support local musicians now, when they need it most.
KNOMA's mission has grown in importance during the pandemic because of what music represents to the city. "Happiness, joy, and celebration — ideals that are very much needed today," Marsalis said.
"Even when things are totally jive, the folks in New Orleans are cool with each other" when music brings them together, he said.
Marsalis feels that New Orleans musicians and artists are taken for granted. The pandemic has hit these communities hard
, because most artists are self-financed and depend on social activities to sustain their livelihoods.
"Many great musicians must hone their skills on the street corners or in bars. It's a tough business and now even tougher with all social activities on lockdown," he says.